The Classical Moralists

The Classical Moralists

The Classical Moralists

The Classical Moralists

Excerpt

"The Classical Moralists" is a companion volume in the field of ethics, to the author's "Modern Classical Philosophers" in the domain of philosophy. The book is virtually a history of ethics, based not upon the ordinary description of systems, but upon selections from the original sources and upon translations of the authors themselves. It is sought, so far as is practicable, to present by means of the case method the most distinctive and constructive features in the ethical systems of the successive moralists. The evolution of ethical thought is thereby revealed, stripped of its controversial material, from Socrates to Martineau. Such a work, it is hoped, will prove indispensable as a text-book of required reading, alike for the historical and for the systematic study of ethics in the universities. The general reader, and more especially any one, whether among the clergy or the laity, desirous of acquiring knowledge of the different ethical systems, will find here a volume containing the original material of the great ethical masters, from the earliest to the most recent times.

Since Socrates may justly be regarded as the founder of ethics, this work begins with selections from Xenophon "Memorabilia of Socrates," which centre about his doctrine of true knowledge as the source of right conduct and the application of the Socratic method to the identification of wisdom and virtue. The book then sets forth the lofty idealism of Plato. For this purpose is chosen his greatest work, "The Republic," since the virtues of the state and of the individual are regarded as identical. In Plato's subordination of the non-rational impulses to reason there is revealed the triple division of the soul, upon which he bases his four kinds of excellence, later styled the cardinal virtues: I, wisdom; 2, courage; 3, temperance; and 4, justice. His beautiful allegory of the cave is also added, as used to teach the true dialectical process and the value of philosophy. The passages from . . .

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